The New Yorker’s editorial union workers stage one-day walkout

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Roughly 100 staffers of The New Yorker magazine walked off their jobs on Thursday in protest of pay disparities.

The walkout started at 6 a.m. Thursday and included copywriters, web production staff and other union employees. It’s scheduled to last until 6 a.m. Friday and didn’t include bylined staff writers, who aren’t members of the union.

Still, the protest stands to interrupt production of the prestigious title helmed by longtime editor-in-chief David Remnick, including its digital platform. And it suggests trouble brewing over contract talks between the union, the NewsGuild of New York, and management at the Conde Nast-owned weekly as they continue to hash out a proposal by the union to boost wages.

The union on Thursday cited the magazine’s “ongoing failure to bargain in good faith and offensive and unacceptable response to the Guild’s initial wage proposal,” submitted in November.

The union also released a survey Wednesday suggesting a wide pay disparity among non-writer editorial staffers at the magazine, particularly women of color. On average, the union claimed, the magazine pays its female staffers $7,000 a year less than their male counterparts.

After two years of negotiations, the union said, it proposed a base salary of $65,000 a year with gradual pay hikes so that all editorial workers could survive in New York City, where the magazine is based.

It claims the company countered with a proposal on Jan. 12 for a $45,000 base salary, which the union said is only $3,000 more than the lowest current full-time salaries. It said management also proposed retaining the right to decrease any union member’s salary up to 20 percent at any time.

“We are fighting to eliminate decades of inequity and pay stagnation at Condé Nast,” said Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York.

“We are devoted to fair pay all around,” Conde Nast said in a statement. “We dispute certain conclusions of this study, and we are determined to get to an equitable agreement.”

The company said the push for the pay cut clause was only for use during a companywide financial emergency, such as last spring’s pay cuts for employees earning over $100,000, which were imposed to avoid outright layoffs. The company did eventually have to cut staff, but restored the pay cuts for survivors in September.

As for the negotiations, Conde Nast countered that it has only held two bargaining sessions related to economics.

“The union delivered a wage proposal at the end of 2020 and, in our first bargaining session of 2021, the company delivered a counter-proposal. These were, on both sides, initial offers. It is our hope that, as opposed to resorting to actions like this one, the union will bargain in good faith and return a counter-proposal, as is standard in negotiations. That way, we can work together productively to reach a final contract as quickly as possible.”

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